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After Using A TouchPad I Have A Few Notes For Potential Buyers

The fire sale is still underway and from all accounts it looks like Bryna is going to give us news tomorrow that there’s a new stockpile of HP TouchPads for the masses for just $100/$149. HP is definitely taking a loss on these, even if you just consider the components but the question remains how good of a deal is it? I’ve had a TouchPad since Tuesday and I just want to share a few things with all of you on the market.

Let’s start with the good. First off, the interface is actually really nice and multitasking through the cards is great. Swipe from the bezel and go up with one finger and it brings you to the running apps. Do that with two fingers and you go straight to the app launcher. It’s actually pretty phenomenal how quickly and easily you can swap between apps. The Twitter app Spaz HD is great and you can adjust columns and the like. Email is also pretty good overall and you can easily change the way you view the screen (number of columns, etc) but it’s harder to hide folders and the syncing is off for some reason (it doesn’t have past emails – only going forward whereas most mobile devices have 2 weeks of email or so).  And the web browser is surprisingly good. The Flash implementation is actually really good. It loads Flash content last on the page so it doesn’t bog it down and I tried a few games that required screen taps and it worked (whereas some mobile Flash attempts result in taps panning around the screen and not with the Flash content). Overall I was surprised at how good the browser is overall.

Let’s talk about some faults and there’s no way to not start with the keyboard. Typing on this thing is a chore. I would sooner use a Windows Mobile 5.0 resistive screen device without a stylus than use this and I’m serious about that. The autocorrect is somewhere between frustrating and awful and overall the keyboard is too sensitive at times with plenty of rogue taps and yet the spacebar almost never clicks. It’s bad, so much so that instead of writing a two sentence email I got up, got my phone and just hammered it out. But part of this is the overall screen and sensitivity of the device. It’s hard to tell if it’s hardware or software but you can press the same spot 3 times before the device reacts to it. No rhyme or reason as to when it does this but poking continually at the same point is just bad. This also ties into some general slow downs in the OS. If you’re reading an email and hit ‘reply’ you need to wait for the reply screen to materialize which is about 2 seconds but on any mobile device it’s instantaneous so it really stands out.

Also the wifi is wonky. It doesn’t keep a consistent connection and I’ve seen this on two devices in two locations, and in fact I’ve made at least a dozen attempts at downloading the 38m OS upgrade and it has yet to be able to keep a connection long enough to get it. And this router has no issues streaming HD Netflix to my Xbox. Also, the range is poor – it almost feels like bluetooth at times it’s so short range.

It also feels like the heaviest tablet I could imagine which is really odd since it’s the same weight as an iPad but feels like it’s twice the weight. Something about the dimension must play into this. It has a slightly curved back which is actually surprisingly nice to hold (since it gives a little natural grip).

And yeah, no surprise that the apps and games are meh. That’s not really news and truthfully most of what a tablet is good for is simple email, Facebook, Twitter and web browsing and on those points it’s more than acceptable (well if you have a connection and can tolerate typing on it). On YouTube it’s actually not an app – just a shortcut to the website so to go full screen you need to hit that little icon and then adjust the resolution each time which is annoying. Oh and no Netflix app or in the browser…for realz.

I haven’t dived too deep into it so far. No extensive business work or anything. Just the usual playing around. It’s a reminder to me that this tablet (and any tablet) is not a PC and you have to remember that in 10” you can only do so much. With that said, it’s solidly worth the $100. Now remember, that’s 1/5 the price of an iPad to keep it in perspective. Yeah very different devices but that also serves as a reminder that it’s so freaking cheap (and the iPad is overpriced but you suckers keep paying it). If the 16gb model was $200 would I buy it knowing what I know now? Unlikely. My Focus does 90% of what I need to do and there’s just a small gap between that and using my PC (you know with that whole large screen and Office and the like). And for me at least that gap is mostly casual web surfing and looking at email attachments on a larger screen. So it’s not a game changer for me – more like a toy or a convenience. I was thinking of getting my parents one but I really think the keyboard is a killer, even at this price. If it had Android that would at least change the software limitations and at $100 for these specs it should fly and really make the whole thing a bargain but there’s no port yet…just a ROM dump.

Anyway,if you’re a TouchPad owner (newly or long time) share your thoughts with the crowd. And of course, good luck with the fire sale cause I have a feeling it’s going to be another frenzy that will last about as long as lunch.

And while we’re here, here’s a link to 6 apps that HP is throwing in for TouchPad owners that total $31 normally.